<$&> Magic of Lights drive-through display to hit DTE amphitheater grounds for holiday season – Magic of Lights
Magic of Lights drive-through display to hit DTE amphitheater grounds for holiday season


A drive-through, high-tech Christmas lights spectacle is set to make its Michigan premiere.

Magic of Lights will take over the grounds of DTE Energy Music Theatre Nov. 13-Jan. 2. Contactless tickets ($15-$35 per vehicle) are on sale starting today at magicoflights.com/events/clarkston.

The holiday-season event, which has played annually in New York, Cleveland and several other markets, is a 1½-mile display featuring LED lights, digital animations and other visual technologies. Accompanying music can be tuned in via an FM signal onsite.

The installation includes more than 1 million lights that will involve a three-week setup at the Clarkston site.

Magic of Lights follows the summer success of Jurassic Quest, a drive-through dinosaur exhibition on the sprawling parking lot of a venue that normally would have been teeming with concerts. The holiday production is presented by Live Nation in partnership with 313 Presents, who plan to make it an annual event.

“We look forward to having Magic of Lights at DTE Energy Music Theatre for the first time and making it a holiday tradition in our community for years to come,” said Dave Clark, president of Live Nation’s Michigan division. “There is nothing quite like bringing together family and friends for the holiday season as well as generating jobs for our local economy in a new creative way.”

DTE drew nearly 600,000 concertgoers in 2019 to notch its latest No. 1 attendance ranking among U.S. amphitheaters, according to year-end data published by Pollstar. Like venues around the world this year, the Clarkston amphitheater has been bereft of concerts during the pandemic.

Jurassic Quest was initially scheduled for two weekends in August and was expanded to four because of high demand. The family-friendly event ultimately drew about 30,000 vehicles and more than 125,000 patrons.

“It’s a real tribute to people’s hunger to get out and have some fun and experience a little bit of normalcy during some pretty challenging times,” said Howard Handler, president of 313 Presents, shortly after the August run.

The Jurassic Quest tour has typically played convention halls and other traditional exhibition spaces. The drive-through presentation was an innovative twist prompted by the realities of the pandemic, Handler said.

“There are a lot of people excited to come back to live events, and we want them to be comfortable that we’ve taken steps to protect them,” Handler said. “Jurassic Quest was an opportunity for some Detroit scrappiness and ingenuity for the 313 team to thread the needle.”

Handler, a metro Detroit native and former marketing chief of Major League Soccer and Madison Square Garden, was named in December as president of 313 Presents. The joint venture was formed in 2017 by the Ilitches’ Olympia Entertainment and Tom Gores’ Palace Sports & Entertainment to oversee entertainment marketing, media relations and other duties for facilities including DTE, Little Caesars Arena, the Fox Theatre, Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre and Meadow Brook Amphitheatre.

“I think there’s going to continue to be experimentation, and we’re game to experiment, but we want to remain in lockstep with the governor and all the public health officials,” Handler said. “I’ve got a whole team accustomed to doing 300-plus shows a year, and we’ve had to sit on sidelines, but we’ve found ways to engage with fans and give them new content.”